The Atlantic covered the true costs of unbundling ESPN (or projected, since no one would actually do it), and I'm shocked it's so high. Well, not really shocked, just confirming what seems like a shocking number.
Apparently, the cost of unbundling these things (all sports, so anyone not interested in sports, please look away) would be far larger than keeping them in your current (horrible) package. This is not a surprise as the above numbers, if anything are an UNDERESTIMATE!
Currently, the Cable Networks Group (read as "ESPN and some other various nothings") makes up 36% of Disney Revenue, and 62% of operating income. 62%! (10Q Filing) No wonder they are so hesitant to do anything to screw that up.
The fact is that only a model that mimics that profitability will encourage those content providers to unbundle - and that will require enormous subscription fees. The very fact that there are #x Million people, who looked away above because they don't watch sports but are still being charged, is why the entire system works.